The 2015 State of the Cloud Survey which assesses cloud computing trends reported that 82% of enterprises currently use a hybrid cloud strategy. This represents an increase of 8% since 2014.
So what is a hybrid cloud environment and why are they so popular?
The hybrid strategy utilises a combination of both public and private cloud computing platforms to provide a ‘best of both worlds’ solution in managing data storage, transfer and operations within a company. Essentially the mix of public and private clouds allows a company to provide a better level of efficiency when performing their business operations. Where necessary, hybrids allow you to assign different workloads or roles to each cloud area and move data between them.
Scalable and Cost-Effective
Hybrid cloud strategies are extremely flexible and cost-effective. Private clouds do provide some degree of scalability, but public cloud providers are able to easily accommodate an increased workload by pulling resources from their greater cloud infrastructure. Therefore companies are able to capitalise on the sheer size of the public cloud environment and can consume as much storage as they require on an ad hoc basis.
This is the perfect solution for businesses who have highly changeable workloads, or for those who experience significant spikes in usage at certain times of the year. In this situation a company might choose to run their operations within their own private cloud, but use cloud bursting to utilise the public cloud space when there is an increased demand for capacity. Such a scenario has significant financial benefits – companies are not forced to invest extra capital in additional private cloud capabilities that will only be used on occasion. Instead they can ‘pay-as-you-go’ with a third party cloud provider.
Industries such as the legal sector handle highly sensitive data and they must follow strict regulations as to how they safely store and transfer such information during their business procedures. In order to protect confidential data, it is possible for companies to store this information in a secure private cloud area whilst taking advantage of public cloud environments for test and development workloads or for performing analytical queries.
Similarly a retail company might choose to host their eCommerce site in a private cloud where they can ensure the protection of customer information and adhere to data governance rules. However, they could host their less sensitive brochure site in a public cloud so as to enjoy the cost-effectiveness of such an environment.
Challenges Of Hybrid Environments
Hybrid cloud environments do unfortunately possess some weak points. Network connectivity is a serious issue when it comes to the performance of hybrid cloud environments. Without a solid and constant network connection, the hybrid model will fail or suffer frequent outages. There needs to be adequate bandwidth available between the private and public cloud environments to allow for the speedy transfer of data. It is possible to design a hybrid structure that interoperates with multiple third party providers if access to one was to fail. However, the architecture of such a redesign and workload testing can be expensive and negate the cost-effectiveness of the hybrid model.
In addition, there must be an existence of API compatibility in order to get the private and public workloads to talk to each other. It may be necessary for internal workload APIs to be restructured in order to meet the requirements of the third party APIs.
There are various pieces of software and connectors that can ease the communication between private and public cloud workloads. HP’s Eucalyptus is an open solution software layer that connects private clouds to public providers such as AWS. Google Stackdriver has recently announced the integration of partnering Tenable, BMC and Splunk services to expand the reach of its cloud tools into areas such as security, monitoring, compliance and ops.
Does your firm need assistance in adopting a hybrid cloud environment? If you’re concerned about the sensitivity of data transfer and storage, then we are industry experts in legal compliance regulations and can provide hybrid cloud solutions that are entirely secure. For a no obligation consultation, get in touch today.